19 NOVEMBER 1921, Page 21


Ma. ALEXANDER MACKINTOSa, well known as the London correspondent of the Aberdeen Free Press and as the biographer of Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, has written a kindly volume of reminiscences, entitled From Gladstone to Lloyd George (Hodder and Stoughton. 15s. net). Mr. Mackintosh began to attend in the Press Gallery in 1881, and has watched Parliament for forty years with unabated interest. In his book he sketches the more prominent of the Ministers and other politicians whom he has beard and met, and he describes the changes in the temper of the House which have gradually come about. He insists that friendly arrangements made between party leaders " behind the Speaker's chair " are of the essence of our Parliamentary tradition. Ho observes, without any trace of malice, that " Government is conducted on the assumption that every Minister is an honourable man." Of the politicians to whom Mr. Mackintosh listened in 1881, Mr. Balfour alone survives. Mr. Asquith did not enter the House till 1886, and Mr. Lloyd George was first elected in 1890. There is nothing sensational in the author's character studies ; they contain no " revelations " and no scandal. They are simply honest, sober and dispassionate estimates by an observer who has seen more of the political game than most men. Mr. Mackintosh drops a hint now and then to show that he is no mere eulogist, but he does not conceive it to be his business to criticize. His chapter on the two War Premiers is perfectly fair both to Mr. Asquith and to Mr. Lloyd George, and his brief notes on Mr. Lloyd George's Parliamentary successes since 1916 are accurate within their limits. Mr. Mackintosh describes the present House as " a transition Parliament elected under conditions which make it exceptional," but he is not prepared to agree with those who say, as people have said in each generation, that Parliament has permanently deteriorated.